It's just a matter of days before Avengers: Age of Ultron begins opening in theaters around the world but it's impossible to forget the last movie Marvel Studios released, the box office record-setting Guardians of the Galaxy. Its story, set off-Earth, featuring all-new characters and no connection at all to the Avengers, opened many doors for Marvel and its writer-director James Gunn, and less than a year from now, he'll be back beginning to shoot the sequel for its summer 2017 release date. The story treatment for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is already complete, according to Gunn.
And on that note, the latest edition of Production Weekly (issue #942) included Guardians of The Galaxy 2 amongst its 150+ listings and revealed its potential production name: "Guardians 3000". It's not official but it's likely true and certainly fitting.
Some media outlet headlines listed Guardians 3000 as a potential title for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel but it's absolutely not going to be that. There's no way Marvel drops its now-popular and now-recognizable brand name in exchange for this. This is simply a working title so take from it is what it could be hinting at and remember that James Gunn is not following the comics with his next Marvel movie. In fact, Marvel Studios execs call what he's doing a "risk" due to how much his ideas for GOTG 2 deviate from the comics...
Marvel Production Names
Before we delve into the Guardians 3000 topics, here's a refresher on what all of the Marvel Studios working titles have been over the years - each usually gets a fun codename:
- Rasputin (Iron Man 2)
- Manhattan (Thor)
- Frostbite (Captain America: The First Avenger)
- Group Hug (The Avengers)
- Caged Heat (Iron Man 3)
- Thursday Mourning (Thor: The Dark World)
- Freezer Burn (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Full Tilt (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- After Party (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Bigfoot (Ant-Man)
What's In A Number?
The "3000" refers to several things Marvel Comics will recognize, the most obvious being the current Guardians 3000 comic book series which launched in October and follows the original Guardians of the Galaxy team (introduced in the late '60s Marvel Comics) in their adventures in the 31st century (hence the number). This team, pictured above and listed below, had their own ongoing series in the '90s and weren't seen again until the Guardians of the Galaxy title was brought back with an entirely new team and setting thanks to the epic Marvel space saga written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning from the years 2006-2011 (Abnett returned to write Guardians 3000).
- Vance Astro a.k.a. Major Victory - A present day astronaut who was stuck in stasis for centuries in a starship. Wears a special suit and wields Captain America's shield he found in the future.
- Yondu - An archer/hunter form the primitive world Centauri IV, the first planet to be colonized by humans in the future. This character was changed for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie where he's played by Michael Rooker.
- Martinex - Made of crystal to protect him extreme conditions of his home dwarf planet, Pluto.
- Starhawk - Has the powers of an alien god and is responsible for manipulating events through time so the Guardians could be created in the future.
- Charlie-27 - Has a bio-engineered super strong body to support living on an Earth colony on Jupiter where his parents were miners (a thousand years in the future).
The modern 2008 GOTG comics for which the movies are drawing inspiration from, takes place in the present and follows Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and other familiar faces, saving the galaxy from various threats, and in several issues the original characters from the distant future do appear. Thanks to time-travel, Major Victory even becomes a regular member of Quill's team and Starhawk plays a crucial role in this series as well (more on this later).
The Starhawk Connection
For Marvel movie fans familiar with the books and following all the little hints from the films and words of James Gunn about his plans for GOTG 2, Starhawk is a character name that may stand out. He appeared in the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray special feature "Galactic Adventurer" - an 8-bit style retro game animation that features Gunn himself, Beta Ray Bill (another Marvel cosmic character from the books) and of course, Starhawk.
And if you recall the words of young Peter Quill's mother during the prologue of the Guardians of the Galaxy film about who Peter's father was, she described him as an "angel." Taking that literally as a physical description, Starhawk is the one character who visually fits.
We know Gunn has something very different planned for who Quill's father is in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - even calling the film a story about fathers - and it wouldn't really make sense to create an all-new character for the role so we can expect it to be someone else we know from the comics. Could the fan speculation of Starhawk (or some version of Starhawk - there are many from different universes and timelines) be Quill's daddy? If so, why would he hire space pirates to recover Quill as a kid? All we know at this point is that Quill's father is not going to be the same as it is in the books. Sorry, J'Son of Spartax.
We also know Gunn is introducing one of his favorite Marvel characters via Guardians 2 and he did previously go on record stating he "loves Starhawk."
What Does It Mean?
If the production title of the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel does mean something significant, we can expect Gunn to make an effort to embrace more key elements from the GOTG lore and that means two things specifically:
- Include another (or more) characters from the original team. He already included Yondu (Michael Rooker) by drastically changing who he is (and when he is) in the first movie so why not include more.
- Perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy 2 can open the Marvel Cinematic Universe to something entirely new: time-travel. The first movie opened the franchise to the Marvel Cosmic and since Fox's X-Men brand is already toying with time, maybe it's time for Marvel Studios to do the same. Time-travel is essential to the bigger picture stories of both the original and modern Guardians of the Galaxy comics and let's not forget that there's still an Infinity Stone out there that represents "Time" and it needs to be introduced in Phase 3 before Avengers: Infinity War.
The idea of time-travel, even if it's just me playing with big ideas from the comics, also makes Starhawk that much more relevant should Gunn have any interest in honoring the source material going forward. Starhawk is the character who travels through time to correct errors in the timeline (that's how Quill's team in the books encounter him) to save the future and is the only one who understands and can notice these issues.
But maybe Guardians of the Galaxy won't be about that at all and instead will be another fun-focused ride about a different story. It depends on Gunn who has a vast amount of creative control in the cosmic sandbox. Who and what would you like to see in Guardians of the Galaxy 2?
James Gunn writes and directs the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel with returning stars Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.